World Arts West
SF Ethnic Dance Festival


Minoan Dancers

GENRE: Cretan Dance
First Appearance in SF EDF: 1992

Crete is the largest island of the lush Mediterranean country of Greece. The oldest signs of inhabitants on the island come from Neolithic ceramics of the 6th century BCE. This popular tourist destination made known the world over through the great epics of the prolific poet, Homer, was also home to the ancient goddess-worshiping Minoan civilization which flourished during the Bronze Age between 2600 to 1450 BCE. Surviving dozens of invasions and occupations throughout the years, the people of Crete are known for their zealous and brave spirits.

Dance has always been a strong part of Cretan life. Group solidarity is nurtured and celebrated through dance at weddings, baptisms, and other significant life cycle events. Greek dances emphasize community, as well as the unique roles each member plays within the community. Children and parents dance together at social events. As dancers’ arms interlock shoulders, dance rhythms traverse time as they are passed down from one generation to the next. A male leader may guide the group in a characteristic chain circle across the dance floor, and individual soloists may step out of the crowd displaying their skillful improvisation.

The Minoan Dancers were created in 1986 at the request of a parishioner from a local Greek Orthodox Church in Marin County. A multi-generational company of over 70 members as young as age five, the Minoan Dancers is dedicated to preserving and promoting Greek culture and folk dance throughout the Bay Area. They are host to the ever-popular annual Greek Folk Dance Festival drawing over 3,000 Greek fold dance enthusiasts from Northern California.


TITLE OF PIECEs: Sousta, Pentozali, Syrtos, Kastrinos
: Vasilis & Effie Fourakis
DANCERS: Nicole Balian, Alexis Captanian, Nicole Captanian, Lucy Diamantopoulos, Stelios Diamantopoulos, Achilleas Fourakis, Andreas Fourakis, Effie Fourakis, Valilis Fourakis, Greggory Keller, Kristen Keller, Takouhi Keshishyan, Mia Kosmas, Christos Papageorge, Petros Papageorge, Epaminontas Passaris, Amalia Savvidis, Sofia Savvidis, Niki Siebert
MUSICIANS: Christos Fassarakis (Lyra), Yorgos Kokonas (Latouto)

The Minoan Dancers present a suite of three dances that represent qualities related to war, life and liberation. Pentozali expresses the quality of a full-scale battle as dancers, with shoulders linked, move with intricate yet contained steps, which suddenly erupt into bold sweeping kicks. Expressing more reflective aspects of life and the fervor of the Cretan people, the second dance, Syrtos, is suggestive of a somber ceremonial dance. The suite concludes with Kastrinos, a precise, fast-paced improvisation by male dancers that represents the Cretan people’s ultimate triumph to freedom.

Back to top